Ubuntu Developers Continue Talks To Discontinue i386 & PowerPC Images
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 16 November 2016 at 12:00 PM EST. 3 Comments
Discussed today during the Ubuntu 17.04 Online Summit was the dwindling state of PowerPC (32-bit PPC) and i386 (x86 32-bit) support for Ubuntu and overall Linux for that matter. Images are still being produced but likely for not much longer although the package archives are anticipated to remain.

Routinely the past few years there have been discussions over discontinuing Ubuntu i386. No announcements were made today but from the sounds of it, the official images might not be produced much longer while other Ubuntu spins may still produce them. The Ubuntu i386 archives also aren't endangered of disappearing anytime soon as they are still needed for 32-bit software compatibility, etc.

Dropping of PowerPC 32-bit has also been discussed more recently, especially now with upstream Debian dropping 32-bit PowerPC as a release architecture. During today's discussions it was also brought up many times how PowerPC 32-bit really isn't even satisfactory on the desktop when modern web-browsers have troubles running. Firefox for Ubuntu PPC is currently dated and there are show-stopping issues with WebKit2-based browsers from running properly on this architecture.

Upstream developers on projects like the Linux kernel and X.Org have dwindling interest in fixing i386/PPC-specific bugs and most testing by different parties now just happens on 64-bit. Also brought up was the fact that old computers that aren't 64-bit capable already have a hard enough time running the Unity 7 desktop that it's really not a usable experience, although there are still happy PPC/i386 users running spins like Ubuntu MATE. Some are hoping that the PowerPC packages at least will remain around until 2020. New images, however, might be limited to the mini ISO.

So no major announcements out of this Ubuntu architecture discussion -- and no Ubuntu Technical Board decisions yet -- but it's looking like the images for Ubuntu i386 and PowerPC might not be spinning for much longer.

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